So my piece this week for the Huffington Post has been generating some discussion. Well at least on Twitter, which people tell me is a quite important site on the interwebs these days. It was a fun post to write, the entire thing was actually just a riff on a single sentence that Jason Calacanis wrote for his email listserv, which was:
The proper protocol in the valley is to at least try and partner, or purchase, the startups who have innovated in a space you’re going into.
The idea of one of the most highly competitive sectors of business "playing nice" just wedged in my head. It's one of those against the laws of physics sort of observations that you can't help but struggle to reconcile.
But alighting on word "cooperation" reminded me of something I wrote a couple years ago for this here little neglected blog of mine, and it seemed like there was actually something interesting going on here.
Only problem was it was real late after a marathon day in the office and I was walking down the stairs to get on a pretty long subway ride. And my brain can become Swiss cheese when I'm tired, it wasn't gonna work the next morning.
So... I became a blogger, except with a pen and my notebook, in longhand.
Came out pretty much in final form, with one exception being the crack-brained idea of feeling like it just had to have poker as the main theme. That didn't work out (though I emailed that part to Jason and he used it, so all was not lost) but otherwise all was OK.
Anyways, so I was wondering if I'm the first ever blogger to use this method. I think it needs a name, how about "offline blog leveraging."
For decades, there's been a gentleman's agreement in the Silicon Valley. If you're the big guy, when small companies get some traction in an area you dominate, you partner with them, or buy them. Taking young startups' ideas and using dominance and power to overrun them isn't sporting.
"Microsoft killed Lotus, WordPerfect, and Netscape. But the recent hurricane of criticism is hitting Facebook, and not just on privacy. They almost got into an all out war with Zynga (makers of the extremely lucrative Farmville and Mafia Wars games) and have been accused of rampantly "borrowing" ideas from Twitter, FourSquare, and many others.
That's a similar title to the last post, but this blog post in specific drew my attention.
A counter argument that has been gaining some ground goes like this – if the rich are responsible for so much of the problem, we should work with them to solve it... does this general approach make sense? Is it pragmatic?
“Most people see this as a reason to loathe the affluent, but wouldn’t it make more sense to see them as an enormous opportunity to create fast and dramatic change for global warming? If the 20% well-to-do offset their CO2 emssions by 50%, that would mean an overall decrease of 40%.”
Everything within me rankles at this suggestion, but I wonder if I’m just to idealistic? Can the wealthy really just buy us out of this mess?
A very good question. Any new approach is bound to be met with skepticism. But new ideas are never without controversy, and it's heartening to see people who are naturally skeptical give a fair hearing to a novel approach.
We're all on the same page -- climate change is almost certainly the greatest existential threat any of us have faced since the end of the cold war.
It's not going to be easy, but it's going to require open minds and pragmatism, and it's great to see a glimmer of hope that all of us working towards the same goal can recognize that and act accordingly.
Damm, I should post more often huh. Note to self: get with the program, buddy.
But this email I just got inspired me to write. If you're going be that guy to trash someone in public, even if it ain't personal and just academic, then you have to give credit where credit is due. This post by Jason Calacanis is one of the most insightful and forward thinking things I have ever read on the subject of online interaction, and its effects of interpersonal and hyper-non-personal relationships. Just read it.
I remember coming across something that reminded me of the Milgram Experiment last year and thinking that the internet was like a giant accelerant to the basic human condition laid bare by that study. But Jason's taken a vague concept rattling around and crystallized it and made it compelling, personal, and persuasive -- and I suspect may have just kicked off a discussion we'll be hearing more and more about in the near future.
Quality economics advice? Well we've been over that already. But when it comes to online communities, Jason has to be considered perhaps the most intuitive and insighful expert out there -- if this is any indication.
It's a story that has been forwarded around a lot this week, but I was struck by an interesting philosophy at Zappos. They offer people $1000 to quit after a month -- the idea is that people who aren't committed will take it, but the people who stay will be serious about working there.
I spend a lot of time visiting with companies and figuring out what ideas
they represent and what lessons we can learn from them. I usually leave
these visits underwhelmed. There are plenty of companies with a hot product,
a hip style, or a fast-rising stock price that are, essentially, one-trick
ponies‹they deliver great short-term results, but they don¹t stand for
anything big or important for the long term.
Every so often, though, I spend time with a company that is so original in
its strategy, so determined in its execution, and so transparent in its
thinking, that it makes my head spin.